How Much is Enough? Book Summary - How Much is Enough? Book explained in key points

How Much is Enough? summary

Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky

Money and the Good Life

4.2 (27 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

How Much is Enough? by Robert & Edward Skidelsky is a philosophical book that challenges the modern idea that money equals happiness. It explores the meaning of the good life and suggests a new economic model that focuses on human well-being rather than GDP.

Table of Contents

    How Much is Enough?
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    Western societies are richer than ever, but that hasn’t translated to less work.

    Imagine you lived in a world in which you spend most of your time doing the things you enjoy, and would work only if you wanted to. Sounds remarkable, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what famed economist James Maynard Keynes predicted roughly 100 years ago would be happening in our near future.

    In an essay in 1928, Keynes predicted that in 100 years Western societies would have obtained so much wealth that no one would have to work more than 3 hours a day.

    It’s certainly true that we’ve obtained wealth. In fact, history’s technological development has increased work efficiency so much that all our material needs could be easily satisfied without a need for much work.

    Indeed, a life of rewarding leisure should already be a possibility for everyone.

    Instead, however, most of us still have to work very hard to meet our needs, and struggle to find the time for recreation.

    Although Keynes’ was accurate in his prediction that we would see an increase in GDP per capita, i.e., the average annual income per household, his forecast of a 15-hour work-week failed spectacularly.

    The 15-hour work-week hasn’t caught on because there has been an unequal accumulation and distribution of wealth over the last decades, in which wealth is heavily concentrated in the hands of the few, while the masses still have to work 40 hours a week or more just to make ends meet.

    Consider, for example, that the richest one percent in the USA receive about 18 percent of the national income.

    And even those who could afford to live the life of luxury and leisure often still work well over 40 hours a week in pursuit of greater wealth.

    In addition, the continual advancements in work automatization, due to technological innovations from the 20th century, haven’t proved to be a blessing for all like Keynes had hoped. In fact, quite the opposite: these innovations helped produce a huge army of underpaid service contractors.

    So why is it that Keynes’s predictions failed so miserably?

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    What is How Much is Enough? about?

    How Much is Enough sets out to critically inform the reader about the moral, historical and economical backgrounds of modern day capitalism, its obsession with accumulating more and more, and its consequences. It also vigorously outlines an ethical alternative to this lifestyle, in which our obsession with “more” is replaced with “the good life.”

    How Much is Enough? Review

    How Much is Enough? (2012) explores the age-old question of wealth and happiness, challenging our modern pursuit of relentless economic growth. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a thought-provoking critique of our consumer-driven society, providing a fresh perspective on the true meaning of a good life.
    • The book delves into the philosophical and historical aspects of wealth, highlighting the timeless wisdom of philosophers and economists, making it intellectually stimulating.
    • With its balanced and well-reasoned arguments, the book encourages critical thinking and fosters a more mindful approach to money and well-being, ensuring it won't bore readers.

    Best quote from How Much is Enough?

    Capitalism is a two-edged sword.

    —Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky
    example alt text

    Who should read How Much is Enough??

    • Anyone interested in philosophy, ethics or economics
    • Anyone who wants a better understanding of the competitive culture of capitalist societies
    • Anyone who wants to know how to get out of the rat race

    About the Author

    Robert Skidelsky is the famed author of the three volume biography on economist John Maynard Keynes as well as an Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick.

    His son, Edward Skidelsky, is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Exeter as well as author of the book Ernst Cassirer: the Last Philosopher of Culture. In addition, he regularly writes for the publications New Statesman and Prospect.

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    How Much is Enough? FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Much is Enough?

    The main message of How Much is Enough? is that the pursuit of wealth and economic growth should not be the sole focus of our lives.

    How long does it take to read How Much is Enough?

    The estimated reading time for How Much is Enough? is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is How Much is Enough? a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Much is Enough? is a thought-provoking read that challenges our understanding of what it means to live a good life.

    Who is the author of How Much is Enough?

    The authors of How Much is Enough? are Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky.

    What to read after How Much is Enough??

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